Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

WOMAN'S LIFE                    161
Yti Chenghsleh (1775-1840), all scholars of independent minds and considerable influence. But the custom was not abolished until the Christian missionaries led the crusade, a debt for which Chinese women ought to be grateful. But in this the missionaries have been fortunately helped by the force of circumstances, for Chinese women have found in the modern high-heeled shoes a tolerable substitute. They enhance the women's figures, develop a mincing gait and create the illusion that the feet are smaller than they really are. Li Liweng's profound observation in his essays on the art of living is still true: "I have seen feet of three inches without heeled shoes and feet of four or five inches on heeled shoes stand on the same place, and felt that the three-inch feet are bigger than the four- or five-inch feet. Because with heels, the toes point downwards, the flat feet seem pointed, while without heels, the jade bamboo-shoots [the toes] rise toward heaven, and pointed feet look flat." Such profound observation on the details of an idle life is always characteristic of the Chinese genius.
The seclusion of women has now gone. It has gone so fast that people who left China ten years ago find, on coming back, a change in the whole physical and mental outlook of Chinese girls so vast as to shake their most profound convictions. The girls of the present generation differ in temperament, grace, bearing and spirit of independence from the "modern" girls of ten or twelve years ago. Myriad influences are at work, causing this change. In general, they may be called the Western influences.
Specifically they are: the change from monarchy to republic in 1911, admitting sexual equality; the Renaissance started in 1916-17. headed by Dr Hu Shih and Gh'enTuhsiu, denouncing the "chaste widowhood" of the "man-eating religion" (Confucianism) and the double sex standard; the May Fourth Movement or Student Movement of 1919, brought about by the secret selling of China by the Allies at the Versailles Conference, and precipitating the active part taken in politics by boy